The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has welcomed the direction of the Australian Government’s Infrastructure Policy Statement, but cautions it should not be used as an excuse for taxing the road transport industry harder.
The Policy Statement was unveiled today by Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, which flags a return to the Commonwealth funding projects with the states and territories on a 50:50 basis, rather than 80:20.
It also points at a more strategic approach to infrastructure funding, with fewer projects likely to be supported.
NatRoad CEO, Warren Clark, said the association welcomes the Government’s aim of taking the politics out of road funding decisions and reigning in cost blow-outs.
“The Minister has correctly identified that cost blow outs are a significant problem,” he said.
“With an estimated $33 billion in known cost blow outs that must be paid in higher taxes or result in less support for other vital priorities, such as road maintenance.
“We note the Government’s assurance it is not cutting funding from the pipeline but seeking to share accountability and get better bang for its buck.”
According to Clark, Australia can reap a national dividend from strategic investment in infrastructure.
“We do question what is meant by ‘seeking to unlock extra money’ for future investment and caution it can’t result in new taxes on road transport,” he said.
“Governments need more effective infrastructure spending and reforms such as implementing service level standards, and not just end up throwing more money at a broken system.”
Higher infrastructure spending and cost blow outs lead to a higher Road User Charge, Clark said, and transport companies are already under “extreme cost pressures”.
“We need to have a conversation about a new Road User Charge and how it will work in the context of decarbonisation,” he said.